Lockheed Martin successfully launched production-configuration AGM-158C Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles (LRASM) from a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bomber. During the test over the Sea Range at Point Mugu, California, B-1B aircrew simultaneously launched two LRASMs against multiple maritime targets, meeting the primary test objectives, including target impact. The air-launched variant that was tested will provide an early operational capability for the U.S. Navy’s The Offensive Anti-Surface Warfare (OASuW) Increment I requirement, to be integrated onboard the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B in 2018 and on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F in 2019.

LRASM is a precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile based on the proven Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile-Extended Range (JASSM-ER) developed by Lockheed Martin for the US Air Force. It is designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and Air Force, in contested environments.

LRSAM began as a DARPA program at the 2009 request of U.S. Pacific Command to rapidly field a modern air-launched, anti-ship weapon. The Air Force is scheduled to field the missile with the B-1B in 2018, and the Navy expects to add it to the F/A-18E/F armament by 2019, enhancing the carrier air group attack capability. A booster-strapped variant is also in development, equipping Mk-41 vertical launchers on surface ships.

F/A-18E/F will also receive LRASM missiles by 2019, adding organic, extended and improved anti-ship capability to the carrier air groups. Photo: US Navy
Surface launched LRASM will also deploy in Mk-41 vertical launchers as part of the Navy’s follow-on phase, offensive anti-surface warfare Increment II. Photo: Lockheed Martin

LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. Relying on an advanced, long-range sensor LRASM attacks targets within a group of enemy ships protected by sophisticated enemy air defense systems.

By its ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges LRASM will be most suitable for operations against heavily protected naval groups, as well as against enemy hidden in congested waters, where targets are masked by civilian or other military vessels of smaller value.

Adding disruptive capabilities to the weapon, the Pentagon also plans to equip the same JASSM-ER stealthy airframe with Counter-Electronics High Power Microwave (CHAMP) effectors developed by Boeing, to enabling the non-kinetic electronic attack.